Employment in Africa: trends and prospects

Unemployment and underemployment in African countries are endemic and growing in scale, a situation further aggravated by accelerating population growth, rapid urbanization, the phenomenal expansion in school enrolment, slow economic growth, lack of structural change and a recruitment freeze in the public sector. The labour market adjustments that have taken place in the context of economic contraction and social regression can be summarized in five points. Real wages in the modern sector have fallen considerably and the growth in modern sector wage employment has slowed down substantially. Unemployment is emerging as a major adjustment on the urban labour markets and the informal sector has become one of the most important labour sponges in Africa. Finally, the employment prospects in the rural areas, where about two-thirds of the African labour force are employed, have improved recently and look better than those in urban areas. Various measures and programmes, including early retirement and extended education, guaranteed employment schemes, school system and curricula reform and special training and employment programmes, have been adopted in an effort to curb unemployment in African countries. There is a growing realization, however, that employment has to be promoted through both institutional and policy reforms that improve the overall incentives system in search of renewed economic growth. Both broad-based policy changes and target group activities will be required if the objective is to alleviate the growing employment problem.

Title:Employment in Africa: trends and prospects
Authors:Diejomaoh, Vremudia P.
Vandemoortele, J.
Year:1989
Periodical:African Development Perspectives Yearbook
Pages:63-75
Language:English
Geographic term:Africa
Abstract:Unemployment and underemployment in African countries are endemic and growing in scale, a situation further aggravated by accelerating population growth, rapid urbanization, the phenomenal expansion in school enrolment, slow economic growth, lack of structural change and a recruitment freeze in the public sector. The labour market adjustments that have taken place in the context of economic contraction and social regression can be summarized in five points. Real wages in the modern sector have fallen considerably and the growth in modern sector wage employment has slowed down substantially. Unemployment is emerging as a major adjustment on the urban labour markets and the informal sector has become one of the most important labour sponges in Africa. Finally, the employment prospects in the rural areas, where about two-thirds of the African labour force are employed, have improved recently and look better than those in urban areas. Various measures and programmes, including early retirement and extended education, guaranteed employment schemes, school system and curricula reform and special training and employment programmes, have been adopted in an effort to curb unemployment in African countries. There is a growing realization, however, that employment has to be promoted through both institutional and policy reforms that improve the overall incentives system in search of renewed economic growth. Both broad-based policy changes and target group activities will be required if the objective is to alleviate the growing employment problem.